Why CFP® Certification Matters

Alphabet Soup of Advice

While Americans seem more desperate than ever for trustworthy investment advice, financial advisers continue to use a confusing array of acronyms. What do they mean?

There are over 100 different initials financial advisors can use, some of which can be earned with minimal study, and a nominal fee. Read more on this topic from Jon Ulin’s interview on ” How to Hire a Financial Planner” (2014, depositaccounts.com)

When hiring an advisor, there are only a few accredited designations you should look for – which are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA. The most prestigious financial services designation held is that of a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ practitioner. 

Why CFP® Certification Matters

Most people think all financial planners are “Certified,” but this is not true.  Anyone can call himself or herself a “financial planner.”  Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of CFP® Board can display the CFP® certification marks, which represent a high level of competency and ethics.  CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ practitioners are required to put your interests above their own and to provide their services as a “fiduciary“- acting in the best interest of their clients. The CFP® board notes that there are less than 70,000 licensed CFP® professionals practicing in the United States. (source: cfp.net)


CFP® Certification Requirements

  • Education Unlike many financial advisors, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ professionals must develop their theoretical and practical knowledge by completing a two-year comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a personal financial planning curriculum approved by CFP Board
  • Examination – CFP® professionals must pass the comprehensive two-day CFP® Certification Exam. The exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance
  • Experience – CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ professionals must have a minimum of three years experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks
  • Ethics – CFP® Board’s Rules of Conduct require CFP® professionals to put your interests above their own and to provide their financial planning services as a “fiduciary” — acting in the best interest of their clients
  • Enforcement – CFP Board’s rigorous enforcement of its Standards of Professional Conduct — including releasing disciplinary information to the public — distinguishes the CFP® certification from the many other designations in the financial services industry

To learn more about advisor designations, financial planning and the financial services industry in general, visit the Financial Planning Association (FPA) website  or the new CFP board site “Lets Make a Plan” to learn more.

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